From time to time over the course of the last several months I have had cause to mention my activities as a CASA . At some point I will likely write my thoughts on how my first case has gone, when it is finished, but even so it feels as if everyone is on a victory lap. About three weeks ago or so I was a part of a meeting, at which I arrived a bit late after an epic exploration in search of the new DHS building, that seemed to be a bit of a valedictory. One can generally get a sense of how a case is going by the general lassitude in the room. In that particular case it appeared that everyone was pretty casual and that there was nothing to do but mark time and prepare for what was, at this point, nearly inevitable. I’m not necessarily sure how everyone feels about that fact, but the facts are facts and they ought to be recognized.
I say this because this evening I have a visit ahead of me to my adorable and energetic little CASA kiddo. I do not know whether there will be another visit. There is a court hearing in about a week, and that might be the end of everything, at least for this case, at which point I will take a bit of time to reflect to myself this particular experience and what I can learn from it, and then likely move fairly quickly into another case which will likely be a good deal different than this one. After all, it is quite an unusual experience to be a court advocate on behalf of an adorable and somewhat hyper little toddler who cannot really speak for herself and who spends our time together usually playing with a comically over-sized centipede and watching Disney movies and trying to tear out and crumple up the pages of my notebook. I tend to be a fairly patient and sedate person at this stage of my existence, but I can imagine it would be quite different being the CASA for a school age child who is articulate and has a lot more concerns with school and mental health and the like.
In a strange way, being a CASA has brought me more in touch with the terrified and deeply anxious child within me. I’m not sure that this is necessarily the most enjoyable thing necessarily, but on balance I feel it is a good thing. In this particular case my presence and my willingness and ability to travel along icy winter roads to rural Washington appears to have been the breakthrough that turned a case with volumes of paper and a fundamental disconnect between different parties into one that only a few months later appears to be heading towards an inevitable positive result. I’m not sure whether I can take credit for helping to put back a broken family, or at least a family that appeared well on its way to being broken into multiple parts. I don’t feel like bragging about it, nor do I have any sort of overjoyed feeling about it. I feel strangely numb, in fact, and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps it is too painful of a subject, or my feelings too complicated, for me to get a sense of what I really feel about the situation as a whole. After all, my heart is burdened by the brokenness of many families, including my own, and seeing a child taken away from her parents reminds me of what could easily have happened with me.
If there had been the same situation in my own family when I had been a toddler, and there had been someone else in the place where I am now, how would it have gone? Would my parents have shown the commitment to wrestle with their own shortcomings in the eyes of the court system so that they would have been able to get me back? I don’t know, and that gives my reflections more than a bit of a melancholy tinge. What is it that makes some broken families able to come back together while others simply crumble under the pressure? I think a great deal of it has to do with how much fight everyone has. Are we willing to work through the obstacles that exist when a path is found through them? Are we willing to overcome our own sense of shame at being viewed as lacking and incompetent to do what is necessary to prevail? Are we willing to take advantage of the help that is provided to us, or even that we are ordered to take part of in order to demonstrate our commitment? It seems, at least to me, that a lack of fight is what dooms so many of us to brokenness in our life. We are more than willing to fight each other, but not always willing to fight for each other and for our relationships.
 See, for example: